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The Agent Diaries – April 2015

Wednesday, April 1st

It has been a slow week, most likely due to the Easter break. There was big action at the agency today.  A fire truck pulled up outside my office to break up a fight between two middle school kids.  Back in my day, kid’s beat the crap out of each other, no fire truck needed.  Times have changed.

Thursday, April 2nd

I received this email today.  There was no name or contact info. “What do you guys do? Like what is your company about?”  I hit the delete button.  No time for that!  Does anyone teach manners anymore?

Four of my actors were in Atlanta today for a callback for a feature film.  All four were sent to the studio for the “powers to be” to view.  I am so proud of the actors for doing a great job!  Time will tell if anyone books…but, this is great news and confirms the actors are on the right track.

I am looking forward to the Easter weekend and going to visit friends in Englewood on the west coast of Florida.  I am picking up Molly & Mike’s portraits.  I vow to not become a crazy cat woman, but with a face like Mike’s, that might not be possible!

Mike’s Portrait 

(Artist: Marsha Banas marbanas14@me.com)

mike

Friday, April 3rd

It is Good Friday!  Office is closed…HURRAY!

Monday, April 6th

Last week, I judged a showcase for “Beth Marshall’s Production: Top Teen Showcase”.  Beth did an excellent job working with the high school students and encouraging them to follow their dreams. I often find myself talking people out of pursuing this business and to do something else that will make a difference in the world. Too many actors…not enough opportunities…too hard to make a decent living.  I am sure many of you can relate to this. But, who am I to discourage someone to follow their dreams? You are never too old to become an actor.  The older you are, the harder it will be to pursue film and television since you will be competing with actors who have been in the business for years who have a resume and reel. Kathryn Joosten was a former actress I represented.  Many of you might remember her when she worked at Disney. Kathryn started in the business working in community theater when she was 42. I remember when casting director Herb Mandell would request that Kathryn wear her teeth for auditions. 100% true…I can’t make this stuff up! Herb passed away in 1999.  He was one of a kind!  Herb would call and ask me to meet a new actor.  I knew she would be blonde with big boobs.  I was never wrong. Kathryn moved to Los Angeles in 1995 and was very successful working on numerous shows including playing the role of Mrs. Landingham, personal secretary to the President in “The West Wing” and as Karen McCluskey in “Desperate Housewives”.  She passed away in 2012 from cancer.  Two great people in the business gone too early.  God bless their souls! Where was I going with this topic? I guess I am trying to say you are the boss and CEO of your life. It is never too late to start a new chapter and pursue your dreams.  Do what makes you happy!

Tuesday, April 7th

After attending a seminar at The Gasparilla Film Festival, taught by Jason Teresi from Breakdown Service/Actors Access, I want to make a few suggestions regarding your reel. While nobody is born with a reel, hopefully, with hard work and dedication, you will have enough footage to put a reel together.  Models have portfolios…Actors have demo reels. A demo reel is a showcase of your work and is THE best marketing tool professional actors can have.  It is a must for career actors who are serious about their craft.

Technology has changed the way demo reels are distributed.  We live in an instantaneous viral society which has made VHS tapes, CDs and DVDs a thing of the past. Thank goodness the days of shipping VHS reels via Fedex are over! Reels have gone viral allowing a digital file to be viewed at the click of a button, saving hundreds of dollars in DVD duplication costs and postage, not to mention the positive impact it has on the environment by not having your DVD’s end up in a landfill.

It is also a good idea to have your individual clips from legit projects on your Actors Access page as well as your reel.  I would define legit projects as any role you booked that required studio or network approval.  Not independent projects or student films. They are fine to use on your reel but, I would not use these clips since most of the casting directors, producers and directors are not familiar with these projects. You should label your clips on your actor’s access page: Name of Project (Role). Example:  The Walking Dead (Police Officer).  If you booked guest star list like this: The Walking Dead (Guest Star: Police Officer). Reels need to be named Reel or Film Reel or TV Reel or Film/TV Reel or Drama Reel or Comedy Reel (whatever fits what you have).  Do not use the word video, clip or demo. Delete any old reels on your actors access page.  If you have more than one listed your agent does not know which one to use.

Make sure your actors access profile is updated and your agent has a current resume on file at all times.

You can purchase your television footage from www.editplus.tv It is best to contact them before the episode airs.

A Few Tips for Putting Together a Demo Reel

  • Start by compiling copies of your on-screen work.  Select footage in which you are prominently featured and which showcases your best work.  This may include copies of television, films, commercials and industrials.
  • When compiling your footage be sure the selected clips feature you, not other actors.  You might need to have your scenes edited so your reel is all about you.   Scenes with well-known actors are important to feature first because even though they may be short, it lets your next potential employer know you were cleared to work opposite bankable talent.  Be sure your footage is of good quality.  Do not select scenes with poor lighting and sound.  Try to pick contrasting scenes for your demo reel to show as much versatility as you can.
  • Avoid putting old work on your reel.  Your reel needs to be a current reflection of you, not of how you looked 20 pounds or 20 years ago.
  • Do not hesitate to get a variety of opinions as to which scenes to use and in what order they should appear before making the final decision on your reel.
  • If you are not qualified to edit your reel, hire a professional to do it for you. Keep in mind you get what you pay for.  A poorly edited reel will not do you any favors.  There are companies who specialize in demo reels for actors.  The one I recommend with the “BTG” stamp of approval is Tom Hillmann, www.60SecondDemoReels.com
  • Choose scenes that showcase you at your best and start with your strongest material. This will grab the attention of whoever is watching your reel. It will also raise the odds that they will watch your entire reel.  Don’t use stage performances or monologues.
  • Industry professionals are busy people.  Show casting directors and producers respect by having a concise, professional reel that will makes them want to watch it all the way through.
  • In addition to a long reel, one-minute/short reels are very popular as they are more likely to be watched due to time constraints. Always leave them wanting more.
  • Start the reel with your name.  You can also open with your headshot.  End your reel with your contact information, which should include your name, agency name, phone number and website (if applicable). 

A good demo reel will open doors for you to agents, managers, casting directors, producers, directors, and anyone else looking to hire actors in the entertainment industry.  A high quality demo reel is guaranteed to give you the competitive edge over actors who do not have one. Amateur footage on your reel will hurt more than it will help you.  If you do not have professional footage don’t waste your time putting a demo reel together.  Start by compiling your footage until you have enough for a demo reel.  And, then be prepared to update your reel the same as your resume.

Wednesday, April 8th

Do you know what really frustrates me?  When actors do not return phone calls about an audition, and then after giving them a few hours, I call back and their mailbox is full.  Don’t let that happen.  EVER!

A lesson in the first pass system for actors.  First pass = first actor to call or request to audition.  Second pass = second round.  Third pass = third round.  For commercials agents always call first pass before moving on to second or third choice.  Slots are limited for commercials and since most talent in the area are multi-listed, slots can’t be held. When first pass actors do not respond in a timely fashion they move down the ladder to make room for an actor who is on the ball.  When the casting department receives submissions for film/tv they request who they feel will best suit the role. It is not unusual for casting to receive 500 submissions per role. They narrow the submissions down to approximately ten percent and send out requests for the actor to audition.  If the producers or director want more choices they move on to the second pass and so forth.  How do actors become a member of the first pass team?  By being consistent in their auditions and callbacks. You move up the ladder by booking a job and making money so your agent can stay in business; by returning phone calls or emails promptly; by being a professional and always being prepared. The early bird gets the worm! When opportunities happen make the most of it…they don’t come around often. I called an actor last week to ask why he did not respond to two auditions. I emailed another actor asking if he still wanted to be represented by the agency since he does not return phone calls or audition notices.  Trust me, they won’t let that happen again.  I will continue to call actors out in hopes they will understand the demands the business requires and if they can’t comply, then it is time to say “Hasta la vista”. Help your agent help you be a member of the first pass team.

Thursday, April 9th

I started the day downloading auditions only to find out the actors and/or the taping person did not follow directions. And, then the blame game began. There are days I feel like I am hitting my head against the wall dealing with this on a daily basis until I remind myself to be grateful for the actors who read and follow directions.

Shout out to Chay Santini and Victoria White on auditions I received today. I seldom have time to watch entire auditions, but when I do I love watching a great performance and these two delivered.

I love the enthusiasm I receive when actors receive an audition notice.  I feel like Santa Claus on Christmas!

I finalized two deals for actors to return on a high profile tv show that I can’t announce the name of or I will be eaten by zombies.  I am happy their characters will be returning for another season. The actors are thrilled they will have the opportunity to work again on the # 1 show in the world! Who wouldn’t? Great opportunities are available in the Southeast for actors.

Love this note from Owen Harn who is working this week on the “Untitled Autopsy Project” pilot shooting in Miami. “I just want to take the time to tell you how grateful I am to have you fighting at my side in the battle to work and how much I truly appreciate you. I know life gets in the way and I find it overwhelming at times but overall I am very lucky to live the life I live at a career that only makes sense to tackle. Thank you for all you do and put up with”.  Thanks Owen!

Friday, April 10th

“Don’t Give Up” by Andrew Lock

Often life doesn’t go in the direction we want it to. Does that mean our lives are doomed and we can’t achieve the success we dream of? Let’s be realistic: Everybody fails, bit consider the following.

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Disney went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland. In fact, the proposed park was rejected by the City of Anaheim, California on the grounds that it would only attract “riffraff.”

Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “nonproductive.” As an inventor, Edison made more than 1,000 unsuccessful attempts to invent the light bulb. When a reporter asked him how it felt to fail 1,000 times, Edison said that he didn’t fail all those times, but that the light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.

Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4 years old and did not read until he was 7. His parents thought he was “subnormal,” and one of his teachers described him as “mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in foolish dreams.” He was expelled from school.

Every comic strip cartoon that Peanuts creator Charles Schultz submitted to the yearbook staff at his high school was rejected.

After Fred Astaire’s first screen test, the 1933 MGM memo from the testing director read, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” Astaire kept that memo over the fireplace in his Beverly Hills home.

Decca Records turned down a recording contract with The Beatles with this fascinating evaluation: “We don’t like their sound. Guitar groups are on their way out.”

A friend of mine in the music industry personally auditioned a singer by the name of Reg Dwight in the 1960s. He unceremoniously shoved the singer out of his office for wasting his time. That singer is better known as Elton John.

Imagine if these individuals had given up, believing they were doomed to failure and wound never achieve success. Do you think they ever felt down and depressed? Sure. But they didn’t allow a gloomy state to overtake them, to overpower their wildest dreams.

Bad experiences can be viewed as positive in hindsight. They can be stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks. It’s your choice. But be determined to NEVER GIVE UP.

Monday, April 13th

It is a typical Monday at the agency.  Catching up from emails over the weekend, sending out and uploading auditions.  I received an audition request for a role of a teen male for the new show “Vice Principals” from the producers of the raunchy HBO show “Eastbound and Down”. I read the sides and sent a note to the parents letting them know it is fine with me if they want to decline due to the content.  Agents seldom if ever receive sides or scripts prior to submitting.  We can’t be the “script police”.  One actor is fine with the dialogue, another might not be.  It is a decision an actor, or parent of the young performer has to make on whether to accept or decline.  Please do not get offended if you receive an audition that you are not comfortable accepting.  Just say no thank you, you are going to decline and let your agent know the reason why.  That way your agent can let the casting director know in case anything changes.

I appreciate when actors follow up after a booking. I am sure most agents do. Frank worked two days ago on “Nashville”.  Not only did I receive a set pic but, Frank also sent me an updated resume and updated his Actors Access account.  I call that the business side of “show business”…Go Frank!

Frank Licari with Charles Esten on the set of “Nashville”

Frank Licari Nashville

Tuesday, April 14th

I am starting to prepare for the cold reading workshop.  Invitations will go out the beginning of May for “BTG” actors. Since agents seldom see talent face to face, it is a great time for me to see the talent I represent and the progress they have made.

Thank you to the person who sent goodies from “Cheryl’s”. A note was not included so I do not know who to thank.  They were delicious…my diet was shot for the day, but it was worth it!

Mom of the week goes to Alkoya Brunson’s Mom Nikki.  I called her yesterday to let her know Alkoya had a callback in Richmond, Virginia for the new PBS TV show “Mercy Street”.  I know this is a lot to ask of anyone so I wanted her to think about it overnight.  When I called her this morning they were two hours away from Virginia.  I am not sure if this is dedication or insanity but, it works for me!  Some roles book off tape…other require a callback. Actors must expect every audition to have a callback. It is a bonus if casting books off tape.  It is a part of what actors have to do to live and work in the Southeast.

Wednesday, April 15th

FINALLY an audition for a SAG national commercial for “Cheerios”.  I have missed SAG nationals…more please! Casting sent out a note to agents asking them to read the breakdown and relay all of the information so that actors can be prepared for the audition. WHAT?  Isn’t that a given and common sense?  It is one thing for actors to not read the information, but, add agents in that group and this market is a hot mess!

Gotta love this phone call I received.  Caller: “Hey are you an agent?”. Me: “Is that anyway to start a conversation?”. Caller:  “It is a free country” and then hangs up.  I doubt whoever this was will go far in life communicating like that.  And, when did “living in a free country” mean you have the right to be rude?

It is a first in 25 years!  Nobody called to find out who much money they made so they can file taxes.

Thursday, April 16th

We lost another actor yesterday.  Kent Lindsey passed after battling cancer the last few years. Kent was always positive and had the best outlook on life.  I will miss our talks and the good times we had together.  It was an honor to represent Kent. My thoughts and prayers go out to his beautiful wife Pepper and daughter Samantha.  RIP Kent!

I have been busy this week with appointments.  Remember out with the old in with the new? It is not a good thing when I find my mind thinking about something else during the meeting.  This must be how directors feel when an actor is auditioning who doesn’t hold their interest.  You have one shot to make a great impression.  One of the actors I met had an “Empathy Workshop” listed on their resume.  WHAT IS THAT?  I thought you were born with empathy? My daughter needs this workshop.  Maybe I should teach a workshop called “Common Sense for Actors”.

Friday, April 17th

I could not sleep last night. Between the boyfriend snoring, the cats purring and the frogs croaking outside I said to heck with sleep and did the next best thing.  I got up and watched the latest episode of “Nashville”.  Aubrey Peeples plays the role of Layla Grant. I am so proud of Aubrey!  I had the privilege of developing Aubrey many years ago and have watched her turn into a force to be reckoned with. I have no doubt Aubrey will have a long career in acting, song writing and singing. You might remember Aubrey from the cult film “Sharknado”. Aubrey will be starring as Jem in the feature film “Jem and the Holograms” opening this fall.

I held meetings this week with new potential talent.  I was interested in representing one out of six. How do agents represent actors without meeting them?  How do they know if they can talk, listen, look like their headshots and act?  I have to know the talent I want to represent and what their essence is. Trust me, it takes a lot more than a headshot and a heartbeat to make it in this business. The relationship between an actor and agent is one of if not the most important business relationship an actor will ever have.

Monday, April 20th

It is confession time…I HATE LOW BUDGET FILMS!!!!  Especially ultralow budget films. Too much work and not enough money to be made.  Don’t get me wrong, I am happy when actors have the opportunity to work. All producers and writers feel that their project is the best in the world and they love their “baby”.  Nobody will love their baby as much as they do. Not me…not you.  It is a fact of life.  So, please do not get offended if I do not get excited about working on low budget projects. I would rather scrub toilets! If you want to pursue low budget films, and I suggest you do if you need the footage for your reel, then submit away.  It is a great way to be productive with your career.  Let your agent concentrate on bigger projects. Or, do what Tunde Laleye did, “I am happy to announce that I self-submitted for a role on actors access and I booked it. This is very special to me because it is my first official booking role even though I know I am on first right for a bigger project.  This is a short film that will shoot for 4 days in Huntsville, AL. I am just excited to start my journey of making my resume extensive”.

Tuesday, April 21st

29 film/tv auditions were sent out before noon today.  A couple with very quick deadlines.  I understand that some actors can’t tape before the deadline.  Others want an extension which is seldom possible.  Traci says, “Worry about what you can control, not what you can’t control”. Episodic television is fast paced.  I wonder how it feels when an actor can’t meet the deadline?  I guess not great because you can’t get to fourth base without going to first.  But, I am really proud of the actors I represent who bust their ass to get their auditions in before the deadline.

Nothing makes me happier than letting an actor know they have a callback, are under consideration for a role or booked the job. That is a lie…a trip to the spa at the Ritz would be just as good!

Wednesday, April 22nd

Our commercial season is over!  It came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. There will be a few auditions but, the bulk is done.  Time to drink my sorrows away.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the film incentive.  We are not the only state fighting for incentives. Louisiana is having problems and the state is looking into phasing out their incentive program.  Keep writing and calling your representatives and senators asking for their support of the “tax credit” bills. The buzz in the halls of the capital is to refer to the bills as credits not tax incentives.  Time to retrain my brain to say credits.

Thursday, April 23rd

Thank goodness for SAG residuals and for entertainment lawyers!

Friday, April 24th

Fridays are the happiest day of my week! I cherish my weekends, even if I sometimes have to work and upload auditions.  I am going to Lake Meadows Farm tomorrow to buy some fresh eggs and a big fat juicy grain fed boneless rib eye. I am grateful for vegans and vegetarians…more meat for me!

Monday, April 27th

I spent the weekend watching my new favorite tv show “Bloodline”.  It takes a few episodes to get into the show but, it is compelling to watch.  It is required viewing for all actors! The lead actor Ben Mendelson is amazing, as well as the rest of the cast.  Ben plays the role of Danny.  He has the uncanny ability to own the scene even when he is not talking. This show is a great example for actors to see how important it is to create a beginning and an end of the scene without saying a word. I loved watching all of our “BTG” actors especially the ones who had recurring roles, Dan Bright, Claire Bronson, Tyler Cravens, Bill Kelly, Jeremy Palko, Zach Robbins and Owen Teague. None of these actors knew their character would return. Some of these roles were under five lines and look what happened. Everyone did a great job representing Florida talent.  Get ready…season two will start shooting at the end of summer.

Tuesday, April 28th

I went to UCF this morning to watch monologues and talk to the future stars of tomorrow!  I wish I had a crystal ball to see where the future will take the students I met.  A big thank you to Be Boyd for inviting me to meet her students.

I received this from a personal client today. This is how it is done! “Thank you for the excellent talent!  All three actors showed up on time and did a great job. Their memorization was good, their wardrobe selections were plentiful and spot on for the part and their delivery was exactly what I needed. I would definitely use them again”.

Wednesday, April 29th

IT IS A GREAT WEEK AT BREVARD TALENT GROUP! I am one proud Mama Agent today! I closed three actors on “The Walking Dead”, Richard Regan Paul wrapped work in Atlanta on the feature film “Keep Up With The Jones”, Owen Teague is in Richmond, Virginia working on “Mercy Street”, Erin Beute booked a guest star role on “Finding Carter” and booked the lead in the independent film “Mind The Gap” shooting in Orlando, Tyler Cravens booked “Graceland” and Roger Floyd’s character will return to work on “Graceland” next week, Greg Pitts will be in Miami working on “Alvin & The Chipmunks IV”, Alkoya Brunson booked the film “Birth of a Nation” shooting in Savannah, Michael Crider is heading to Atlanta to work on the last episode of the season “Halt and Catch Fire” and last but not least Logan Allen will be heading to Miami for four months working on the new Nickelodeon show “Talia’s Kitchen”.  The life of the agent is similar to an actor’s…when the going is good it’s great…when it is slow not so good. And, remember the only way you are destined to fail is if you quit. Robert Pattinson had already decided he was done with the business before accepting his last audition. That audition was for “Twilight”.  Need I say more? You never know what your future holds. This should be inspiration to everyone to keep working hard…sooner or later it will pay off!

Thursday, April 30th

I will dedicate today to all of the loyal actors in the business!

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